Friday, July 22, 2011

"So it Goes"

"And Lot's wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned into a pillar of salt. So it goes."

I just finished reading Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse Five, and one of my favorite passages is the one above.

I love how Vonnegut loves the humanity in Lot's wife. The Biblical story of how God smote Sodom and Gomorrah and drove Lot and his wife away from the destruction contains one of those rare, very fleeting glimpses we get in the Old Testament of a woman's emotion and her loss. It's there, and then as soon as we've registered it, it's gone, and Lot's wife is turned to a pillar of salt-- to which Vonnegut says, simply, as he will say again and again in this novel, "so it goes."

Lot's wife is simply "Lot's wife." She doesn't have a name. She's just a woman, feeling human emotions and reacting to a tragic event in her life. For that, she is punished. But then, there are many people in our world today who feel and act upon legitimate human emotions and are discriminated against for doing so.

And that's why I love Kurt Vonnegut.

Vonnegut is so wry about the social issues he describes. But underneath that wryness is a sort of compassion for all of humanity that shines through in his writing and which I much appreciate. Not only is Lot's wife human, but everybody in this book so far is human in a raw, almost exposed way, whether expressing sadness for the loss of the home that was destroyed by fire and brimstone or searching for words to describe a feeling that one had once, in Dresden, during the war or happily writing about his "keepers" on the faraway planet of Tralfamadore.

Pick up a copy of the novel, and see for yourself!


  1. Hi Alison,

    Vonnegut is a good author, indeed! Slaughterhouse Five is the first novel I've read of his. I think I'll give some of his other stuff a whirl...

    If you want, you can check back here on Sunday; I will be featuring a post about Project 18, linked back to your blog, of course!

    Thanks for dropping by!

  2. No Nice Days
    In memory of Raymond Carver

    There are no nice days –
    there are days
    that you write
    and days that you don’t.
    The first is gravy,
    as another writer
    once said, and the latter—
    you may as well be dead.

    Do you think I was having a 'nice day' writing -- when I wrote this? Maybe I should have just read Vonnegut - also love Slaughterhouse 5! But why in memory of Raymond Carver? He was a groundbreaking short story writer, and a pretty good poet -- he wrote a poem entitled, "Gravy," which has stayed with me all my days. So, have a nice day, and if you are a writer, write.

  3. Thanks, Caroline! Great writing! I will have to check out that poem, now!



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